SALT LAKE CITY – It’s a good thing Dallin Bachynski decided to show up for Utah’s basketball game Wednesday night against Idaho State.
Because the rest of the team didn’t, and without Bachynski, the Utes would most likely have suffered their second straight home defeat to a so-so Big Sky Conference team.
Bachynski, who joined the team this year following a year at Southern Utah University and an LDS mission, got his first start as a Ute and boy did he make the most of it. The 7-footer from Canada scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Utes to a 57-46 victory over the Bengals at the Huntsman Center.
“He gave a great lift on both sides of the ball, with his energy flying around,’’ said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. “Dallin’s a force inside to be reckoned with. He’s got a lot of energy and he’s coming along real well.’’
Bachynski said he found out early in the week he was going to start, which was one of his goals coming into the season.
“Knowing I was going to start, I knew I had to come out strong on the glass as well as on the defensive end,’’ he said. “It turned out I was able to do a little bit on the offensive end to start the game. I’m glad I was able to get a little energy at the beginning and help my team win.’’
While the final score may look like the Utes (2-1) had an easy time with the Bengals, who fell to 0-3 for the season, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The Utes had trailed by nine early in the second half, before going on a 30-9 run, led by Bachynski, to start the second half.
It was 35-35 midway through the second half when the Utes finally broke it open. First Bachynski scored off an inbounds pass, then tipped in a Jordan Loveridge miss before scoring on an inside shot. Later in the run he made a great pass to Dakarai Tucker under the basket for an assist and then hit a pair of free throws.
As he left the floor after the free throws and the Utes now up by 10, he received a loud ovation from the home crowd.
The only thing Bachynski couldn’t do well Wednesday was dunk the basketball, as he missed two dunks in the final four minutes, which he attributed to “trying to show off.’’
Bachynski was the only Ute who played with any fire in a listless first half as he scored the first six points for the Utes and finished the half with 11 points, half of the Utes’ total on 5-of-7 shooting.
The rest of the team could only manage 3 of 18 from the field in the opening half.
“It was not pretty, it wasn’t very much fun,’’ Krystkowiak said of the first half. “The life was out of the building and Idaho State did a great job of slowing things down. We were really stagnant in the first half.’’
Aside from Bachynski, only one other player who scored in double figures for the Utes was Glen Dean with 11 points. Loveridge pulled down 12 rebounds and had seven points.
Idaho State, which was by Melvin Morgan with 15 points, shot just 30.6 percent from the field and just 2 of 16 from 3-point range.
Utah will play Central Michigan Friday at 5 p.m., while Idaho State will play Wright State at 7:45 p.m.
UTE NOTES: In 7-foot-4 Jakub Kusmieruk of Poland, Idaho State had the tallest player to play in the Huntsman Center since BYU’s Shawn Bradley. Kusmieruk played six minutes and scored six points . . . In the first game at the Huntsman Center Wednesday, Central Michigan defeated Wright State, 59-55. Kyle Randall led the way with 13 points for a balanced Chippewas team that all 10 players score and five players end up with six points. Matt Vest scored 15 for the Raiders on 6-of-8 shooting . . . This marked the third straight game the Bengals failed to reach 50 points . . . Last year, the Utes defeated the Bengals 71-59 for their second win of the season in mid-December . . . After the win, the Utes lead the all-time series with the Bengals 24-4.
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